It’s not easy being a mainstream car manufacturer fighting for space in the automotive D-segment.
Not only have Ford Mondeos, Vauxhall Insignias and Renault Lagunas faced competition from the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes in company car schemes and through competitive finance deals, but the all important private customers have turned towards cooler crossovers in the last decade, too.
Subscribe to evo magazine
Renault has struggled significantly, even withdrawing the Laguna from UK sale a few years back. Unfortunately its replacement, the Talisman, isn’t earmarked for UK sales either – but the upmarket saloon looks to be the most convincing large Renault yet.
For a start, the standard car is a proper saloon, rather than a hatchback. Despite premium manufacturers creating a niche for coupe-style hatchbacks, a three-box saloon is still more desirable in many markets.
Renault’s is 4.85 metres long and 1.85m wide – a little shorter than the 1.87m-long Ford Mondeo, and the same width. At 1.46m tall, it’s also a little lower. The three-box shape is also aerodynamic, with a drag coefficient of 0.27.
The proportions are long and sleek, the front end – with its chrome-slatted grille and LED daytime running lights – is distinctive, and the broad-shouldered rear is simple and elegant. The rear LED signature is permanently illuminated to further define its shape.
Wheels of up to 19in fill the arches, while a range of classy colours – from whites, through beiges and browns to a deep black metallic – further enforce Renault’s more prestigious aspirations. Renault even highlights its four-stage paint process – including anti-corrosion, sealing, painting and a stage where the paint is cleaned by emu feathers – as an example of the brand’s focus on quality.
‘Initiale Paris’ trim sits at the top of the range, with a cabin swathed in Nappa leather, laminated side windows for reduced noise, and heated, massaging seats.
Two petrol engines and three diesels provide motivation. The latter comprise 108, 128 and twin-turbocharged 158bhp variants, while 148 and 197bhp turbocharged petrols should endow the Talisman with reasonable performance. The most powerful petrol and diesel options are solely available with a six-speed dual-clutch EDC transmission.
Talismans sit on the same Common Module Family platform as the larger Espace (also unavailable in the UK), though the saloon is around 200kg lighter than the equivalent family-mover. Four-wheel steering, active damping and ‘Multi-Sense’ driving modes should give the car the agility now expected of vehicles in this class.
European sales begin at the end of 2015 – though thanks to Renault’s previous struggles in the UK D-segment market, its appearance on our roads doesn’t seem forthcoming.
Renault chose the Frankfurt motor show to unveil the estate version of the Talisman, which is due to to go on sale in the first half of 2016. The longer bodied estate shares its engines with the saloon, and also inherits the same chassis technology.
But the estate offers significantly more interior space, made up of 30mm more headroom for rear passengers and 25 extra litres of stowage space in the cabin. The boot can swallow 572 litres of luggage up to the parcel shelf (47 more than the Ford Mondeo estate) - when this is removed and seats are folded forward there's room for almost 1700 litres of luggage (about 30 litres more than the aforementioned Ford, but 80 down on the VW Passat estate).
Like the saloon, there are are no plans to bring the Talisman estate to the UK.